During my first year in the DePaul Human-Computer Interaction program, I took a class about the basics of graphic design. It ended up being one of those classes that I actually wished that I would’ve attempted to test out of since I already knew how to use graphic design tools like Photoshop, Illustrator, etc. Testing out definitely would’ve saved me some time and money, but there was one major take away from the course. That was the usage of a sketchbook.
In the course, I learned about how innovation leaders in history like Leonardo Da Vinci and many other inventors and artists used sketchbooks. But when some think of sketchbooks, they think that you have to be this great artist, or planning your masterpiece. In this course, I came to understand that these people didn’t just use sketchbooks for their artwork. They used it to capture ideas, to explore new ones, andto record their thoughts.
As a child, I always had all kinds of ideas and solutions to problems, and my mom would always tell me to write them down. I’d do as she said, but then that piece of paper would eventually get lost along with the bright idea written on it. The idea of a sketchbook sounded like a great solution to this scenario. I mean, my brain is normally exploding with ideas of new products. New ways to solve problems. A sketchbook could serve as a place to capture all of these ideas in one place.
I went to my local bookstore and bought a minimalistic black leather string-bound sketchbook. I made sure to get the kind with the grid pages, because I find it very helpful when drawing interfaces, and the lines help when writing entries or taking notes.
Originally, I was thinking that I would use it as a diary of sorts as well, which I still do, but it later evolved into this all encompassing book housing everything that I need to write. I was hoping that one day my children would use it to write my memoirs, but I’m afraid now if they tried to do that it would be a very complicated feat, seeing that there is no real narrative just a collection of my random thoughts, no real chronological.
Three years in, and I am coming to a close in my 3rd sketchbook, but I keep them to reference from time to time. For example at specific times in my life, I use my sketchbook to notate an introspective. I evaluate where I am, where I am winning, where I am struggling and what I can tackle next. It’s a great place to look and really see personal growth.
Over the past three years, sketchbooks have evolved to become my greatest tool in my belt. It’s my sounding board, my look in the mirror, my storage for ideas, my thought process visualization. So get out and buy a sketchbook, and start writing and drawing! A couple of weeks ago, my roommate posted a meme of Instagram that said “Your sh*ttiest sketchbook page is still better than the days you decided to not make anything.” I’m not sure who originally wrote that, but it definitely rings true. It doesn’t have to be pretty, it can be for your eyes only, but you will see great results from being vulnerable and looking at yourself from the pages of your sketchbook.